Friday, June 6, 2008

Melancon: I'm Ready For Bigs

A confident Mark Melancon told NY Times scribe Tyler Kepner he could pitch in the majors right now in an insightful, if not excitable, piece today:
Reliever Mark Melancon sat alone with a reporter in the vacant stands before Wednesday’s game, and he did not flinch when asked if he was ready for the majors.

“I think I could be ready as soon as they want me,” Melancon said. Later, he added there was no reason to think a call-up was far away.

“If I pitch well and continue to do what I’m capable of doing, I don’t see why not,” Melancon said. “Why not? Why isn’t it close? I really do believe I am capable of doing what they’re doing, all those guys out there. So, yeah, I think it’s close.”

“He’s getting extended right now in Double-A,” said Jeff Patterson, the Yankees’ West Coast scouting supervisor, who helped sign Melancon. “He’s definitely not a guy who can only pitch one time through a lineup. He can turn a lineup over.”

Against San Francisco Giants minor leaguers Wednesday, Melancon allowed one hit and faced the minimum nine batters. He mixed changeups and curveballs with a fastball between 91 and 94 miles per hour, and threw just 32 pitches.

“The stuff has to be there, but you have to have the will and the determination to get better,” [Mariano] Rivera said. “You don’t see that a lot in the rookies and minor leaguers. He always asks questions, interesting baseball questions.”
Melancon says his stuff is better now than it was before the injury, because he developed the changeup while he was hurt. He throws his curveball across his body now instead of fully extending his arm, which led to the elbow damage.
Though I've now seen Melancon multiple times in person, it will be very fun to watch him at the major league level. That hammer curve and bending fastball up to 94 mph is going to be tough to hit at any level. Not to say Melancon won't have some growing pains at the highest level, but his toughness will make it easier on him than most rookies.

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